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Focus on the Egg: MSU's Mullen says Ole Miss week biggest

November 20, 2011

MSU football coach Dan Mullen has placed emphasis on the Ole Miss game since he arrived in Starkville. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

As Mississippi State heads into this week's Battle for The Golden Egg, bowl eligibility isn't what's on the mind of the Bulldogs.
The only thing on State's mind is getting the rivalry win over "The School Up North" for the third consecutive year.
"This is the game that leaves a good or bad taste in your mouth in the state of Mississippi for the next nine months," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "It can make a good season great or a bad season good. It's that type of game and it sticks with you for a long time walking around the state."
The Bulldogs have won the last two Egg Bowls which means Mullen is undefeated in the game. Even though they have played against numerous top ranked teams while playing the sixth toughest schedule in the nation to this point, the Bulldogs feel this is the most important game to date.
"Obviously, it's the biggest week of the season for us," said Mullen. "It is every year when you get into rivalry weekend. This program looks forward to this game every single year."
Ole Miss hasn't had good season by any measure, but Mullen feels that doesn't matter.
"When you get to rivalry games, it's all about that one game," said Mullen. "I'm sure we are going to get the best game they've played all season."
Normally this time of the week, the speculation of who the starting quarterback for Saturday's game will be, but Mullen squashed that after the 44-17 loss to Arkansas by naming Tyler Russell as the starter.
"The plan is to start Tyler," said Mullen. "I think he's a done a good job and he knows we have confidence in him. I have a lot of faith in Tyler and I know the team has a lot of faith in Tyler to get the job done this week."
Russell will be without one receiver as Mullen said that West Point native Michael Carr, who hasn't played in the last several games, was out on "personal leave."
Another Bulldog who could be limited is Darius Slay. Slay suffered a slight ankle sprain according to Mullen, but he does expect Slay to be practicing by the middle of the week at the latest unless the injury worsens. 
If Slay's injury does worsen or is worse than originally thought, it could add some struggle to the already down pass defense. Arkansas' Tyler Wilson seemed to pick apart the MSU secondary on Saturday night and Mullen isn't happy about that.
"It's a problem," said Mullen. "I think there is multiple issues we have to get fixed. One, we have to get more pressure on the quarterback and two, we have to get closer to receivers."
Mullen didn't find many positives out of the sixth loss of the season, but the one he did seem to find was punter Baker Swedenburg and even said it was probably his best game this season.
"He's been very solid for us which I'm very pleased with," said Mullen. "He's had a couple of not good kicks, but he's been consistent and he missed location on only one punt on Saturday."

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